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Crusades PS FM 10/8/04 6:38 PM Page ix
Reader’s Guide
he term “crusade” is commonly used today to refer to a
dedicated, enthusiastic effort. It usually means a total, allout attempt to correct a problem, such as combating drunk driving or saving an endangered species from extinction. When
people use the word “crusade,” though, they may not recognize its distinctly religious meaning and history, even though
they might embark on their crusade with religious enthusiasm.
The “Crusades” (with a capital “C”) were a series of
military campaigns launched by the Christian countries of
western Europe in the late eleventh century. During these battles tens of thousands of people went to war in the Middle
East. Their goal was to recapture the Holy Land, or Palestine,
from the Muslims and restore it to Christian control. The
focus of the Crusaders was the holy city of Jerusalem, now
part of the Jewish nation of Israel on the eastern shore of the
Mediterranean Sea and still a holy site to three religions: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. But the impact of the Crusades
was felt throughout that region of the world and in Europe.
The First Crusade was launched in late 1095 and
ended with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099. The last Cruix
Crusades PS FM 10/8/04 6:38 PM Page x
sade took place in the late 1200s. Historians identify seven
separate Crusades, although there were two other highly irregular Crusades that are not generally numbered. The exact
number is not important, for the Crusades were a single extended conflict that was fought over the course of two centuries. As the military and diplomatic situation in Jerusalem
and the surrounding areas changed, successive waves of European troops flowed into the region to capture a key city or to
expel an opposing army that had recaptured the same city.
Each of these waves represented one of the Crusades. After
each Crusade, particularly the early ones, some of the European invaders remained in the Middle East to rule over Christian kingdoms they had established. Many others returned to
their homelands. During the periods between each Crusade,
there was relative peace between the warring parties, although tensions simmered beneath the surface.
The Muslim world was slow to respond to the Crusaders. For many decades Muslims were too busy fighting
among themselves for power and influence in the Middle East
and lands beyond to recognize the threat that the Crusaders
posed. Only after they mounted organized resistance were
they able to drive the Crusaders out of the Middle East. Hundreds of years later, many Muslims continue to regard westerners as “crusaders” bent on occupying their holy territory.
Historians continue to debate whether, from a European Christian perspective, the Crusades were a success.
While the first ended successfully with the capture of
Jerusalem, some of the later Crusades were military and political disasters, at least from the point of view of the Europeans.
All historians agree, though, that the Crusades would have a
profound effect on the development of European civilization.
They opened trade routes and promoted commerce, they led
to never-before-seen exploration and cultural contact, and
they provided inspiration for poets and novelists. They also
laid the groundwork for conflict and religious strife that continues in the twenty-first century.
Features and Format
The Crusades: Primary Sources offers twenty-four full or
excerpted documents, speeches, and literary works from the
Crusades era. Included are “political” statements, such as
The Crusades: Primary Sources
Crusades PS FM 10/8/04 6:38 PM Page xi
Pope Urban II’s speech calling for the First Crusade. There are
also accounts of battles and sieges as well as other events,
such as the Children’s Crusade and the slaughter of Jews in
Europe by Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. Included
are samplings from literature, among them, excerpts from the
epic poem The Song of Roland and a chapter of the Koran. The
Arabic view of the times is featured in such writings as a Muslim historian’s view of the Mongol invasions. The Byzantine
perspective is seen, for example, in a letter from the Eastern
Orthodox patriarch of Antioch to the king of France and portions of The Alexiad, a biography of the emperor Alexius I
Comnenus by his daughter.
The excerpts presented in The Crusades: Primary
Sources are divided into four chapters. Each chapter focuses
on a specific theme: Fighting the Holy Wars, Call to Arms, A
Different View, and A Matter of Faith. Every chapter opens
with an overview, followed by reprinted documents from the
time of the Crusades.
The following additional material accompanies each
excerpt (or section of excerpts):
• An introduction places the document and its author in a
historical context.
• Things to remember while reading gives important
background information and directs the reader to central
ideas in the text.
• What happened next… gives an account of later historical events.
• Did you know… cites significant and interesting facts
about the document, the author, or the events discussed.
• Consider the following… poses questions about the material for the reader to consider.
• For More Information lists sources for more information
on the author, topic, or document.
The Crusades: Primary Sources includes numerous sidebars, highlighting interesting related information. More than
forty black-and-white images illustrate the text. A glossary
running alongside each primary document defines terms,
people, and ideas contained in the document. The volume
begins with a timeline of events and a listing of important
Reader’s Guide
Crusades PS FM 10/8/04 6:38 PM Page xii
words to know; it concludes with a subject index of people,
places, and events.
The Crusades Reference Library
The Crusades: Primary Sources is only one component
of a three-part U•X•L Crusades Reference Library. The set also
includes one almanac volume and one volume of biographies:
• The Crusades: Almanac covers the Crusades in thirteen
thematic chapters, each examining an element of the
two-hundred-year time period. The volume takes the
reader through many aspects of this lengthy conflict. Included are chapters on the origins, history, and aftermath
of the Crusades and on the holy city of Jerusalem and the
land of Palestine as the focal site of three faiths. There are
also profiles of the various groups of Muslims and Christians involved in the fight and descriptions of knights
and the conduct of warfare.
• The Crusades: Biographies presents the biographies of twenty-five men and women who lived at the time of the Crusades and experienced the battles or the effects of these
wars. Profiled are famous figures, such as King Richard the
Lionheart of England, the Muslim warrior Saladin, and
Saint Francis of Assisi. Among the lesser-known people
featured are the sultana of Egypt Shajarat al-Durr and the
Arab soldier and writer Usamah ibn Munqidh.
Several people deserve our gratitude for their assistance with this project. We are indebted to everyone at
U•X•L and Thomson Gale who assisted with the production,
particularly Julie Carnagie, who provided help at all stages;
we also thank Carol Nagel for her support.
Marcia Merryman Means
Neil Schlager
About the Author
J. Sydney Jones is the author of eight books of fiction
and nonfiction, all with a focus on history and travel. A former journalist, he has also penned more than a thousand
The Crusades: Primary Sources
Crusades PS FM 10/8/04 6:38 PM Page xiii
articles for newspapers, magazines, and biographical reference works. His works have been translated into French, Russian, Italian, German, and Hebrew.
About the Editors
Marcia Merryman Means and Neil Schlager are managing editor and president, respectively, of Schlager Group
Inc., an editorial services company with offices in Florida and
Vermont. Schlager Group publications have won numerous
honors, including four RUSA awards from the American Library Association, two Reference Books Bulletin/Booklist Editors’ Choice awards, two New York Public Library Outstanding Reference awards, and two CHOICE awards.
Comments and Suggestions
We welcome your comments on The Crusades: Primary Sources and suggestions for other topics in history to consider. Please write to Editors, The Crusades: Primary Sources,
U•X•L, 27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, Michigan
48331-3535; call toll-free 800-877-4253; send faxes to 248699-8097; or send e-mail via
Reader’s Guide